My son's name is Aaron and he was a gift from God in that he came to us through adoption. He's the sweetest little boy and from the moment I held him, just seconds old, he has been the center of my world. Due to divorce, we are now a family of three - myself, my mom and Aaron.
My son was 5 when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He was just three weeks into a brand new experience - Kindergarten. It came out of nowhere. No obvious symptoms. We woke up on September 20th to get ready for church and he was covered head to toe with a strange rash. Our journey through the world of pediatric cancer came at us very abruptly and it hasn't stopped yet. After 5 months of intensified chemotherapy treatments, blood transfusions, platelets, bone marrow biopsies and aspirates we were unable to obtain remission and headed to Duke University for a life-saving Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant. We spent 7 months in Durham, NC while Aaron underwent and recovered from this procedure which required that I walk away from my job. As of March 18, 2018, Aaron is two years cancer free and two years post Bone Marrow Transplant. Thank you, Jesus! He is now 8 and loves soccer and his doggy Sebastian.
He is still undergoing treatment for a transplant side effect known as Graft vs. Host Disease. The donor cells are still not playing nice with his original cells but we are working toward that. In the meantime, it's not the most comfortable thing for Aaron to endure as it causes GI and skin issues that are just constant and aggravating for Aaron. Please join us in prayers for this.
Aaron has not been in school full time since his diagnosis. He spent all but the first three weeks of Kindergarten on homebound. First grade was all-homebound and he's been in school about 40 days of this year's attempt at first grade. His homeschool teacher is the best and we pray that 2nd grade will be an easy adjustment for him in the fall. He has dreams of becoming a firefighting veterinarian and I'm trusting and hoping that God has the same plans and will make a way for him to catch up where he's fallen behind.
Throughout this journey, God has just shown up in so many unbelievable ways. He has surrounded us so completely with exactly what we have needed. A bible verse at the right time to speak to the very thing that we were struggling with. A hug, a phone call at just the right time, amazing doctors, treatment options (many families we've gotten to know don't have options), resources to buy prescriptions, to travel out of state for treatment and pay bills that couldn't get paid while I was unemployed for 14 months. We were indeed blessed with a faith community that just picked us up and held us tight and refused to let go. Many in this community we've never met and yet God has still brought them to our side. We were so amazingly blessed. You all are a part of that community, as are organizations like Special Love. Aaron has also enjoyed a week of camp through Special Love. There he was able to just be himself. He was amongst fellow survivors who understand his issues and were not as harsh on him as other children have been because they just don't understand what he's been through.
We live on such a very tight budget due to the financial fall out that comes along with a pediatric cancer diagnosis. This tight budget makes camp and respite opportunities impossible to even think about. When you add my single parent status into that equation - the impossible just got that much more impossible. So with all my heart, I thank you for following God's calling and being the light for our family as we continue to work through this journey of pediatric cancer. My family is thankful for all of you!
About the Camp Scholarships Program
Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation's Camp Scholarships Program provides funding for a child in remission to attend a camp of their choice. Cancer often isolates children from their friends and activities they love. The Camp Scholarships Program helps children in remission to reconnect with those friends and activities. Camp allows children who have faced a cancer diagnosis to gain independence, make new friends, and develop new skills. You can sponsor a child and send them to camp by donating to CCRF's Camp Scholarships Program. Mail cash or check to 249 Lincoln Way E., New Oxford, PA 17350 or donate online at https://give-ccrf.networkforgood.com/.
Toxic chemicals can impact our health and the environment. However, there are many everyday household items that contain these toxins to some degree. Although most of us will never feel the full impact of them, there can be some health issues associated with their use. In this article, we look at some of the most commonly occurring toxins found in the home.
Although incredibly convenient, commercial cleaning products are full of toxins known as volatile organic compounds. Present in a wide array of products, these compounds have some significant health risks. Many can irritate the respiratory system, eyes, and prolonged exposure can even cause cancer. Thankfully there are alternatives to store-bought, harmful cleaners that can reduce the exposure to these harmful toxins for you and your family. The green cleaning trend is gathering pace, as people prefer using natural and readily available ingredients such as white vinegar instead of harsh chemical cleaners.
Plastic is widely used in the food industry, from food containers to plastic wrap, to water bottles. However, little is known about the long-term impacts of using these plastics. It is understood that plastic chemicals leach into food. This is particularly true when food is heated in plastic containers, or when salty or acidic foods are stored in plastic. There is not enough data to say how safe or unsafe this may be, but you may be best trying to limit how much you use plastics in your day to day life.
Dust is certainly annoying and unsightly, and the battle against it can seem constant. However, there is often more than just dirt in household dust. Recent studies have shown the potentially toxic chemicals can be readily mixed in with dust. Chemicals from cleaning products, beauty products, and chemicals from outdoors can all settle in dust. This mix of dirt and toxins will become airborne when disturbed and could be potentially harmful. Vacuuming and mopping floors is a good way of minimizing your exposure to dust.
Many of us wouldn’t consider pesticides a household item as such, but they’re more prevalent in our lives than you may think. Whether it’s in pest control products, fruit, and vegetables, or gardening products, pesticides are frequently used. There are some fairly significant dangers associated with pesticide use, and many people aren’t aware of this. Try to avoid introducing such toxins into your house by using non-chemical methods of pest control and buying organic, pesticide-free foods when you shop.
Teflon is a substance that has made cooking more convenient for some years now. However, such non-stick cooking products are made using highly toxic materials. Worryingly, there has been a range of health complaints linked to the use of these products. When pans that use them heat up, a compound known as PFOA is released. There are alternative products that you can use to avoid exposure to this toxin, including pans made from ceramic and cast iron.
There are various toxins that come from seemingly innocuous household items or products. By knowing about them, you can take steps to minimize your family’s exposure to them
Guest Blogger: Kelli Gardener, Groom and Style
Good morning, Good Night & All Points in Between,
“April showers bring May flowers,” although, for many throughout the East, I’m not so sure that the saying meant snow showers. Mother Nature’s fickleness aside, let’s shift gears to a different type of shower – the one many of us experience multiple times per week or even day – and the products we put on our bodies as part of that process.
Our skin is our largest organ, serving as a protective barrier, helping to stabilize our body temperature and allow us our sense of touch. The average consumers, particularly women, use about 9 products containing 126 different ingredients every single day on their bodies (Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database). The US government does not require health studies or pre-market testing on personal care products even though just about everyone is exposed to them. Consequently, the use of seemingly benign conventional cosmetics for our hair, skin, and nails can easily result in an exposure to thousands of chemicals, potentially putting you at risk for everything from respiratory issues to yes, cancer. Putting this into perspective, the US bans 11 chemicals for use in cosmetics (anything from shampoo to lip balm from lotions to sunscreen), while the European Union bans 1,328 (Campaign for Safe Cosmetics). Aside from the drastic difference in regulations, why should we care? Well, put very simply, what you put ON your skin goes INTO your skin and ultimately into your bloodstream and on to your organs, including your brain. Our skin can absorb up to 60% of what we put on it, with the more sensitive areas around our faces and armpits absorbing anywhere from 2 to 6 times more than other areas of the body. Many of the toxins and chemicals that we put on our bodies will make their way into your body and essentially become “stuck” there since the body lacks the means to break them down. This toxic load, in turn, becomes a significant contributing factor to health problems and serious diseases, especially for those whose healthy diet and exercise habits may be lacking. Bottom line, you should be just as aware of what you put ON your skin as you are with what you put IN your mouth.
Even plant-based ingredients can be harmful — think poison ivy— and should meet the same safety standards as those derived from petroleum, mines, or animals. Personal care products are a $500 billion industry in the United States with consumers seduced daily by flashy packaging, enticing aromas, and promises of everlasting youth. Red flags should immediately fly when products are marketed as “natural”, “clean,” “green,” “non-toxic” or “organic”. Do your research and check those ingredients as there are no skincare industry standards unless the USDA National Organic Program certifies the product.
What if we could ensure 100% that what we put on our skin is indeed safe? Making your own skin and hair care products utilizing dōTERRA essential oils or, at the very least, knowing you can rely on the company who is providing those products to do so with your health and wellness in mind is not only affordable and environmentally friendly but a sure-fire way to know that what you are putting on your body will not be toxic to your body. There are several properties – including cleansing, purifying, soothing, and nurturing - that make essential oils useful for our skin and hair care.
As you start incorporating essential oils into your daily skin care routine, you will find that some oils are better for the skin than others. First, make sure that the oil you intend to use on you is approved for topical use. Also, consider safety - should you dilute? Then, consider the kind of benefits you want for your skin. Do you need moisture and hydration? Consider cedarwood, geranium, myrrh or sandalwood. Do you want to promote an even skin tone? Consider juniper berry, geranium, or cypress. Are you trying to get rid of a pesky blemish, or soothe an irritating area? Consider melaleuca, lavender, or patchouli. Trying to fight the fine lines of aging? Consider Frankincense, Rose, or Ylang-Ylang. In addition to using single essential oils in your skincare routine, you can also access the benefits of essential oils for skin by using doTERRA’s skin care products that already have essential oils in them, making it all the more easier to use essential oils daily.
The same rings true for our hair care. Due to their moisturizing, soothing, and enriching properties, essential oils have been used for years in hair care routine throughout the world. Rosemary, geranium, peppermint, melaleuca, ylang-ylang, and sandalwood are just a few of the dōTERRA essential oils that can be incorporated to help our hair without all of the toxic baggage. In addition, doTERRA also has an entire hair care system that utilizes dōTERRA essential oils, gentle cleansers, and botanical ingredients that keep the hair looking clean and healthy without taxing our systems internally.
Needless to say, the benefits of incorporating essential extend far beyond the surface. From the uplifting scents of wild orange and lime for our hair or the purifying and invigorating scents of melaleuca and peppermint for our skin, the properties of essential oils can support us emotionally as well.
Can it be that simple? Once again, yes, it sure can!
To learn more, PLEASE JOIN US FOR A CLASS (Informative class AND/OR DIY class) on how incorporating essential oils into your skin and hair routines can support us both physically and emotionally. All attendees will be entered in a class giveaway. All proceeds benefit the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation.
Remember, all it takes is one small drop to create a ripple that can lead to a cascade of possibilities.
About Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation
Headquartered in New Oxford, PA, the Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation supports children under 18 and their families facing the hardships of cancer. The foundation performs acts of care and kindness through the following programs: Bear-Able Gifts (largest distributor of gifts to children with cancer in the U.S.); the Helping Hands Fund (provides emergency financial assistance to families); and Camp Scholarships (allows children in remission to reconnect with activities they love). With a national pediatric hospital partner network of 215+ locations, the foundation directly helps more than 16,000 children affected by cancer and their families every year. Please visit www.ChildrensCancerRecovery.org.
Somerset, NJ -- It's been a four-year climb, but Saint Francis U has finally topped the Mount.
In a record-shattering conference-wide competition, the SFU Red Flash raised $5,820.14 to edge out three-time defending champion Mount St. Mary's for the NEC SAAC Money Wars crown.
“Each year our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has looked forward to this competition and their success is a testament to their hard work, creativity, and passion for making a difference. It was a total team effort,” said SFU SAAC advisor John Krimmel.
One hundred percent of the raised funds will go to the Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation. The Harrisburg, PA-located organization assists children under age 18 & their families who are facing the hardships of a cancer diagnosis.
SFU’s first-place dollar amount sets the all-time single-year record for a NEC school since the annual fundraising event began in 2010.
In fact, the top-three finishers in this year’s race all surpassed the record that the Mount set during the 2016-17 academic year.
Mount St. Mary’s most-recent collection efforts yielded a $5,137.59, a 28.3 percent increase over its winning total from last year.
Robert Morris claimed third place in this year’s Money Wars after donating $4,300.00 to the cause.
Collectively, NEC SAAC leaders from the league’s 10 core member institutions raised an all-time high $21,720.75. That figure represents a 59.1 percent surge from the $13,650 that was contributed during the 2016-17 academic year.
“Winning Money Wars is ultimately exciting because of the difference it makes for the Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation and those that are touched by their efforts...the true winners in this competition,” said Krimmel. “Our student-athletes continue to see the bigger picture in making a difference in the lives of others. We are so proud of our SAAC and all of our student-athletes at Saint Francis and look forward to continuing this partnership with CCRF!"
Saint Francis U, which last won the competition in 2014, had finished as the runner-up to the Mount each of the past two years.
With the annual collective donation having increased each of the past five years, the NEC SAAC’s efforts have resulted in a total of $88,228.84 being sent to CCRF since 2010.
“I’m so proud of the NEC SAAC members for the incredible dedication and commitment they have shown to the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation through the annual Money Wars fundraiser,” said NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris. “The NEC student-athletes continue to out-do themselves year after year, and their efforts continue positively impact so many young children’s lives. ”
About The Northeast Conference
Now in its 37th year, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 10 institutions of higher learning located throughout six states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to four of the largest markets in the United States - New York (#1), Pittsburgh (#23), Baltimore (#27), and Hartford/New Haven (#30). Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 22 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic access to 14 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU Brooklyn, Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U, and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league’s official website (www.northeastconference.org) and digital network (www.necfrontrow.com), or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, all @NECsports.
About Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation (CCRF)
Headquartered in New Oxford, PA., the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation improves the mental, social and emotional well-being of children with cancer and their families. The foundation delivers gifts to thousands of children each year through the Bear-Able Gifts program and emergency funds for families of children with cancer through its Helping Hands Fund. With a national pediatric-hospital partner network of more than 215 locations, the foundation directly helps more than 15,000 children affected by cancer and their families each year. For more information, visit www.ChildrensCancerRecovery.org.
If you google Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation, like any other thing in life, you will find the good and the bad. Unfortunately, as we all know, the bad news is what will sell and what the media will focus on. If you look at the Evening Sun, you will see a story that was written about CCRF stating that a large portion of our funds raised go directly to telemarketing expenses. They fail to inform you about all of the lives that our foundation has touched. They have not reached out to the families that we have assisted to ask them what that $300 payment (from CCRF) to their electric company meant. It meant that they had electric for another month, as they were unable to work and afford the payment due to spending day after day in the hospital, watching their child fight cancer, and knowing that there is nothing that they can do for them.
In my first few weeks of working at CCRF, I saw returned mail coming into the agency. These mailings had handwritten notes stating: “I am 87 years old, please take me off of your mailing”, “I am going into a nursing home, please remove me from your list”, and “Please take this $10 donation, and remove me from your mailing list”. This only confirmed that the telemarketing companies are, in fact, targeting the elderly; which hurt my heart, and is not something that I wish to be a part of- personally or for our agency. As I was reading these statements, I immediately thought of my Grandmother- she was the target of scam after scam. Her trusting, loving heart always wanted to help. If I found out through a thank you card from CCRF that my Gram sent money through direct mailing going to a P.O. Box in Washington DC, or through a phone call with a pushy, out-of-state telemarketer on the other end, I would have lectured her, telling her to never donate to a scam like this again. Then if I would have Googled CCRF and read the article that the Evening Sun had posted, I would have really questioned if Gram’s money was being used wisely. I, too, would have made an angry phone call to the organization, demanding that she be removed from their lists and that she never be contacted again!
Just this week, as I was drafting this letter, the foundation received a call. It was the daughter of an elderly woman; she left an angry message on our general voicemail about a charge that was on her mother’s credit card. I told the staff that I would personally return the call. I called her back to apologize for the charges and explained that I fully agree with her complaints. As the conversation continued, she apologized that she left a stern message. I assured her that I understood her aggravation. It was fifteen minutes later that we hung up, and as we were saying goodbye, the daughter thanked me again for my time and stated how impressed she was that the Executive Director would take the time to personally return her call. Additionally, she added, “I am going to tell Mom that if she would like to help the children with cancer, that she has to send her donation directly to you”.
As of 1/1/2018- We are UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT! This is when I started as the Executive Director and also added 3 new members to the Board of Directors. Already this year, we have canceled all of our telemarketing and direct mailing contracts. This year, WE WANT TO BE INVOLVED in the LOCAL COMMUNITY rather than using telemarketing funding. We want to know our donors and we want our donors to know us! CCRF was running mainly on the donations from the telemarketing calls and mailing, with a small portion of funding coming from events and fundraisers pulled together by community members. CCRF is not a state-funded organization. In order for the foundation to continue the mission, we need the support from our community.
Please help CCRF get “Back to the Essentials”, by watching for and attending our events. Consider following us on social media, or signing up for a monthly newsletter on our website- and watch for details for events and raffles. We look forward to seeing you at an event, and in our community!